The need for speed

Powderhorn installing high-speed quad lift

The old chair lift at Powderhorn is being replaced by a new high-speed quad lift, which should cut the ride time in half for skiers next season. A contest to name the quad lift is underway on Powderhorn’s Facebook page.



With low-hanging clouds in the background, construction crews work on the area that will be the base of the new high-speed quad ski lift at Powderhorn Mountain Resort.



The future has arrived at Powderhorn Mountain Resort.

Back on Aug. 4, 2011, Andy Daly and brothers Ken and Tom Gart agreed to pay $1.4 million at an auction for the ski resort and undeveloped land below the resort.

The group then committed to work on a long-term capital-improvement plan.

With the sound of heavy equipment echoing off the mountain early last week, the resort’s next chapter is coming into view as summer arrives.

With a $5 million project under way, the capital-improvement plan has become a reality.

The biggest project is the construction of a new high-speed quad lift. Speed means more runs and more rider satisfaction in the future.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Dusti Reimer, Powderhorn’s marketing and sales interim manager. “It’s going to be so much easier for families and small children to load on this lift. And you’re going to double the ski time because the lift will be so much faster.”

One to two runs in an hour can turn into up to four to five now, she said.

The time on the lift will go from 13 to 16 minutes to the top to less than seven minutes, and the quad lift will now bypass the midway area.

“It’s going to be so much faster, it’s going to really improve the experience here,” she said.

Dave Smith, slope operations manager for the resort, said the high-speed lift is an exciting venture.

“It gives Powderhorn something it didn’t have in the past. It now gives people the opportunity to get more riding in,” he said. “You’re going to be able take a half day and get your fill of riding.”

Other improvements being done at the resort this summer are the construction of three downhill, mountain bike trails and increased snowmaking capabilities.

The U.S. Forest Service’s approval to build 12 to 15 miles of downhill mountain bike trails, and the quad lift being able to transport bicycles, will make for increased visitor numbers throughout the year.

“The biggest thing it does for us is it enables us to have a year-round operation,” Smith said. “Obviously that gives us the opportunity to make money more than just four months of the year.”

He added, “The owners have already made the commitment that whatever we make we can spend and put back into the resort.”

Building mountain bike trails takes planning, and Smith said the resort is doing it right.

“We’re working with a lot of mountain biking groups in the valley, so we will have people who have built mountain bike trails in the past consulting with us,” he said.

The trails will not be open this year, but trail construction will be completed later this summer.

In the past, the resort utilized snowmaking operations around the base area. They also rented generators, which had to be moved around.

The increased snowmaking operation next winter will have its own power source, Smith said, so it will eliminate the need to rent generators.

This winter, snowmaking will increase and move further up the mountain, Smith added.

He said the wet spring weather has been challenging, but he sees no problems in meeting the fall completion goals for all of the improvements.

The resort is also conducting a contest to name the high-speed quad lift. Entries are taken by commenting on the resort’s Facebook page. The winner will get a 2015-16 season pass and be the first rider on the new lift. Deadline is June 30.

Reimer said a number of events are scheduled for this summer, starting with the Webe Dirt Bike Series on July 11-12.

On July 25, The Mud, The Bands and The Beers event will be held, featuring a mud run, craft beer tasting and live music.

Western Slope Uncorked, a wine and music event, will take place Aug. 1.

Color Sunday will highlight the fall colors and feature a 10K adventure run Sept. 27.

With the new high-speed quad lift, more snowmaking, mountain bike trails and other improvements, Reimer said there’s plenty of excitement for the 2015-16 season.

“We hope people will see the investments we’re making to the resort, because we’re here long-term, and we’re here to make improvements in every way we possibly can,” she said.


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